Lafayette's Ouest Daisy © Noah Fecks
Historically consumed in Europe as a shot before or after a round of golf, kümmel, a caraway- and cumin-infused spirit that originated in Holland, has found its place in America as a sweet-savory addition to cocktails.
At chef Andrew Carmellini’s newest New York hot spot, Lafayette, beverage manager Megan Mina uses Combier kümmel in the Ouest Daisy, a refreshing mix of Maestro Dobel blanco tequila, fresh cucumber juice, lime juice, agave and kümmel. The drink is shaken then double-strained into a coupe and garnished with thinly sliced cucumber. Mina uses just an eighth of an ounce of kümmel in the Ouest Daisy, but the earthy, licoricey flavor is the cocktail’s lasting taste after the vegetal tequila and clean cucumber fade away. Much like fish sauce in cooking, kümmel is a pungent ingredient that can easily overpower a cocktail. “It goes from you can’t taste it to that’s perfect to oh my god, too much,” Mina says. “Within a few drops it kills the drink.” She suggests treating the spirit almost like bitters. “Just that little hint really shows through with the other bright flavors.” Here, more ways American bartenders are using kümmel.